Driving Northwest: Jaguar XFR one top cat

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by TOM VOELK / KING 5 News Car Expert

NWCN.com

Posted on June 3, 2010 at 12:41 PM

Updated Thursday, Jun 3 at 12:41 PM

The Jaguar XF is a nice car. Luxurious. Quick.   Attractive. A year ago I put it my Top 11 list because of this seamless combination of pampering and power. While there are Jaguar aficionados out there, I’m generally not one of them. But I caught myself daydreaming about how I could put an XF in my garage on a permanent basis. Again, nice car.

Introducing nicer. Jag calls it XFR. It’s not a need car, but definitely a want. The short description is that it’s Jaguar’s performance edition, like BMW M, Mercedes AMG and Audi S. I’ve spent the last week nervous about curb scraping the 20 inch wheels and getting caught in the sights of a radar gun. It’s never been so much fun to be a worry wart.

Put into perspective

A base XF will dock your checking account for $53,000 (plus those pesky taxes and fees). In turn Jaguar will hand over a terrific piece of sculpture and a keyless ignition fob that starts a 385 horse V8. Pay an additional 50% for the R and there’s more than just a special version of their supercharged V8 that pumps out 510 horsepower. Nearly all options are loaded on.   Visual cues like revised front and rear fascias, Nevis wheels, hood vents and 2 unique paint colors show the world you are a very motivated person, in more ways than one.  

All the world’s a stage, it’s one of the reasons people like to be seen in prestige brands.   All FXs have a dramatic sense of theatre on start up that are certain to impresses an audience. The LCD screen graphic comes to life, air vents rotate upward, the cylindrical shift knob rises from the console like a secret weapon. The steering wheel shift paddles are works of sculpture. I’d like a pair in my home just to admire.

One quick cat

The rear-wheel drive XFR leaps from 0-60 in 4 and half seconds according to my instrumentation. The R’s mission may be performance but even with its firmer suspension the ride quality manages to remain fairly docile. It’s not Lexus cushy but any vehicle that corners flat as North Dakota while keeping the kidneys from leaving the farm is impressive. Active Dynamics reads the body movements, steering input and road wheel movements 500 times a second and constantly adjusts the electrically controlled suspension. Lots of activity for a drama free ride.

The transmission is a 6-speed with a selected sport mode serving up performance oriented gear changes. The XFRs Active Differential Control is an electronically controlled active differential that limits the slip between the two rear wheels. It works together with the anti-lock brakes and the traction and stability control.

Pretty. Quiet.

Jaguars are about luxury and the experience starts with a fairly quiet cabin at highway speeds. There's not much engine growl heard for a high performance model but what come into the interior has an appropriate snarl.   The Jag has quick reflexes all the way around, corning is very capable and enthusiasts will appreciate Dynamic Mode that loosens up the leash of the electronic stability control a bit. Really though, a closed course should be used if driving hard, since the XFR has very high performance thresholds. 

Fuel economy? EPA rates it at 15 city 21 highway on specified premium. I drove the XFR in a “brisk” manner and averaged 16. That may keep the common folks away from this ride but the target market probably doesn’t consider the fuel costs of an $80,000 car.

Fast track luxury

Slip into firm chairs with soft leather and it easy to understand this really is luxury performance. Their many adjustments will coddle most humans on the planet. Materials, from the dark stained wood to the stitched leather dash are top notch. At night the ice blue lighting makes the cabin look like a backdrop from the movie Tron. The headliner on my tester is suede like Alcantara. I’m a bit surprised the pedals don’t get the fancy aluminum treatment. A nice luxury touch? A heated steering wheel for your paws.

In operation, Jaguar’s simple touch screen user interface is my favorite. A home button calls up the main screen so the page needed is never more than two taps away. It’s animation is a bit lethargic though, wish the menus had the same gidddyup as the car.

Tech talk

Phones get Bluetooth. iPods are supported and HD radio sounds pretty darn good on the 440W Bowers & Wilkins sound system. The glovebox gets an elegant light touch operation (called JaguarSense). 

There’s a rear view camera and blind spot warning system in the side mirrors.   I like that the passenger side mirror dips down to show the curb when the knob is dialed to reverse. The only real option package is radar adaptive cruise control with Emergency Brake Assist at $2,200. In short, buyers won’t want for technology in the XFR. 

The Jaguar’s tail

XF is not a small car, 2 average size adults like myself will be comfortable in the back seat. Foot and legroom is average, those in the middle position have a good chance of knocking their noggin on the headliner if they’re of average height. There's also a substantial driveshaft tunnel to deal with. No power port or climate controls in back. Surprisingly seats split and fold 60/40. The trunk’s on the smaller side scoring a 5 in the TP Trunk test. It’s more than plenty for a couple on a long road trip.

A tip for wealthy folks on a budget, there’s a less expensive way to get pushed back into the seat. The XF Supercharged model starts at 68 grand, a significant saving. It delivers 470 horses, which on an everyday basis is certainly enough to run the errands.   But for those who don’t compromise when it comes to performance, XFR is the top cat. 

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